Cynical Synapse

Sun, 30 Jan 2011

TSA Tightens Fascist Grip; Stamps Out Competition

Filed under: Business, Citizen rights, Flying, Government, Hypocrits, Politics, Take action, Travel, Unions — cynicalsynapse @ 3:16 pm

US Department of Security Theater

Only a couple months after the uproar over full body scanners, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put a halt to the private screening option. Only 16 commercial airports, out of 494, use private security screeners in lieu of the TSA. Amazingly, the TSA and its union are obviously intimidated by privitization. John Gage, President of the American Federation of Government Employees, said:

The nation is secure in the sense that the safety of our skies will not be left in the hands of the lowest-bidder contractor, as it was before 9/11. We applaud Administrator Pistole for recognizing the value in a cohesive federalized screening system and work force.

Clearly, the union is happy to not face challenges from privatized (whether union or not) security personnel. Despite what he says, there’s no mistaking Mr. Gage’s primary concern is not losing dues-paying members.

TSA pats down old lady in a wheel chair

Just two months ago, TSA was “neutral” on private screeners. Now Administrator John Pistole’s attempt to protect his fiefdom is thinly veiled, at best. Loss of airports to private security means reductions in personnel—and funding—for the TSA. Pistole’s comment:

“I examined the contractor screening program and decided not to expand the program beyond the current 16 airports as I do not see any clear or substantial advantage to do so at this time.

Since when does government have the authority to limit free enterprise? If private companies can meet (or exceed) the government standard of service, why are they being denied the opportunity to do so? And why is capitalism being stiffled in deference to the interests of a monopolistic government agency? If the Screening Partnership Program is no longer part of TSA policy, why is it still on their website?

More importantly, why are Americans willing to surrender more of their freedoms to Government? Ask your Congressman and Senators to question TSA’s business unfriendly position.

Previously on security theater:

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Sat, 22 Jan 2011

Tigers Finally Retire Sparky’s Number

Filed under: Detroit, Heroes, Sports — cynicalsynapse @ 4:21 pm

Sparky Anderson

Sparky Anderson is baseball’s Detroit Tigers’ winningest manager of all time. He took the team to World Series contentions in 1984, 87, and 88, seizing the title in 1984. Sparky was the first manager to win the Series in both American and National Leagues. He was with the Tigers for 16 years, retiring in 1995. Many fans think the Tigers should have retired Sparky’s number 11 while he was alive. He certainly deserved that recognition.

The Tigers had their chance when Sparky Anderson attended a game with recognition ceremony for the 1984 World Series victory 25 years after it happened. Just a year later, the Hall of Fame Manager died November 4, 2010. Now the Tigers will retire Sparky’s number 11 this year. Players will also wear a “Sparky 11” patch and an “11” flag will fly at Comerica Park for the 2011 season.

Rest in peace, Sparky. Thanks for what you did for Detroit and Michigan.

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Back to the Future: Transit Returning to Detroit

Filed under: Detroit, Economy, Government, History, Life, Politics, Transit — cynicalsynapse @ 4:38 pm

Concept M-1 light rail station at Grand Blvd.

On 20 January 2011, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a $25 million light rail grant for Detroit‘s M-1 transit project. The project takes its’ name from its route up Woodward Avenue which is state highway M-1. The grant is for the first phase to run from Hart Plaza, at the foot of Woodward by the Detroit River, and the New Center area, where GM’s headquarters once stood. Detroit’s Amtrak station is adjacent to Woodward in the New Center.

In announcing the grant, LaHood said:

Building this light rail system will create jobs for this great American city, and it will stimulate long-term economic growth by attracting investment to downtown Detroit and the New Center area.”

Most people opposed to the M-1 project point to the costly People Mover. Detroit’s People Mover is an elevated, automated train that runs in a loop around downtown. Opponents highlight cost overruns during construction, operating costs at least six times fare revenue, and low ridership. The naysayers say the M-1 project is doomed to the same fate. The People Mover has low ridership because its route was selected when Detroit’s downtown was vibrant. While there are still lively areas, many People Mover stops are not near businesses or attractions. From planning to opening day, it took 12 years to build the People Mover. Inflation certainly contributed to rising construction costs.

M-1 light rail project plan

Detroiter Thomas Page summed up the view of M-1 light rail proponents.

We have to have this if we want to be even a mediocre city, let alone a world class city. Real cities have rail systems. Even people who don’t use them want to live near transportation systems. If we don’t build this now, I don’t see much hope for Detroit or the state of Michigan.

As the saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Woodward Avenue has always been Detroit’s axis. It demarks the east and west sides. It is the address for Foxtown (the theater district), art and history museums (in the Cultural Center), and Detroit’s football and baseball stadia. There is commercial, office, and residential along most of Woodward in Detroit. Transit accessibility will help revitalize the areas in between the gems along Woodward. Detroit should incorporate\ transit-oriented development to manage redevelopment in between Woodward’s bright spots.

Street car on Woodward at 6 Mile

Rather than Woodward light rail becoming another white elephant like the People Mover, imagine the synergy of the systems feeding each other. Wouldn’t it be cool to park in a cheap lot, hop the M-1, transfer to the People Mover to Greektown for dinner? Then grab the People Mover back to the M-1 for a game or show at the Fox. And finally, take the M-1 back to your car and avoid the traffic jams around the lots by the stadium.

Planners of M-1 rail will start construction by the end of this year. They intend to have Detroit’s first light rail operational by 2016. Ironically, the Woodward street car line shut down 60 years earlier, the last of what once was the country’s largest street car operation. Who would have thought?

Fri, 14 Jan 2011

Snowpocalypse 2011

Filed under: Deceit, Environment, Global warming, Hypocrits, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 8:19 pm

Snow map of the US

So far, 2011 has been rather challenging, weather wise. The northeast has been hit with a couple of snowstorms. This past week saw the south getting more snow than the northern midwest is used to. As a result, 49 states have snow on the ground! The only state without snow is Florida.

As of a couple days ago, snow is present on the ground for 69.4% of the lower 48 US states. More than two-thirds of the country is snow-covered. It’s not too late. We could still meet last February’s snow in all 50 states.

Cancun temperatures

The British Meteorological Office (BMO) predicted 2010 to be warmest year on record but it didn’t happen. The UN climate change conference experienced record low temperatures for Cancun, Mexico. To explain this, warmists claim winter weather proves climate change is real.

Because of their interests of the climate change hoax, BMO withheld record cold predictions. Not everyone is drinking global warming koolaid, however.

Wed, 12 Jan 2011

Global Warming is Real

Filed under: Deceit, Environment, Government, Life, Paradoxes, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 12:25 am

If you’ve looked at the weather report lately, what other conclusion could you come to?

HT: theblogprof

Thu, 06 Jan 2011

House Reads the Constitution

Filed under: Congress, Government, History, Legal, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 10:16 pm

US Constitution

Public officials who are sworn into office swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. It seems only fitting that they realize just exactly what they’ve sworn to. It became painfully obvious in the 111th Congress that US Representatives had no clue, nor any concern, with the content or meaning of the US Constitution.

New leadership in the House of Representatives set the tone today. From Motor City Times:

The Constitution has never been read aloud, on the floor of the House of Representatives since it was ratified in 1788 until today. As expected, most Liberals (Democrats) began screeching loudly about the idea.

They complained that reading it was a waste of time. They called it political theater and generally mocked the idea.

One example of sneering elitism comes from Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York, who thinks us simple folk don’t even know what the Constitution is:

Nadler agreed. “A lot of the tea party people, I wonder how many of them have read the Constitution,” he said. “A lot of them, they seem to think the Constitution is the Articles of Confederation.”

Nadler said he anticipates a raft of “idiotic amendments” from Republicans, such as an effort to allow states to nullify acts of Congress, that would blatantly violate the Constitution.

Suspicious and mocking as Nadler was of the Republicans’ motivation for reading aloud what he affectionately characterized as “a long, dry, boring document with details about how Congress will have power to lay imposts and taxes,” he agreed with other constitutional experts, and even the tea party, that there was a potential benefit.

“Maybe,” he said, “it will be a little educational.”

It was uncomfortable for Liberals (Democrats and some Republicans) to read aloud the Constitution because it reminds everyone that there are strict limits to the reach of the governments power.

The best quote about today’s reading of the Constitution goes to Rush Limbaugh:

Thinking about the Democrats, I was watching a little bit of the Constitution being read today on the floor of the House and I said, “This has gotta be like waterboarding to these Democrats.” It has to be torture, because the Constitution is anathema to them, the Constitution limits the power of the government, limits the size, limits the role of government, and to have to not only sit there and listen to it, but to share in the punishment of reading it. I’m sure that’s how they’re looking at this. They wouldn’t have to do this if they’d won the election. They lost, so they’re being punished. They have to read the Constitution, tantamount to waterboarding.

What a novel concept. Maybe Congressmen won’t read the bill, but at least they’ll have heard what the US Constitution says.

Wed, 05 Jan 2011

2010 in Review

Filed under: Blogroll, Media — cynicalsynapse @ 8:22 pm

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 95 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 341 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 18th with 404 views. The most popular post that day was Fight the Invasion of the Body Scanners.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were motorcitytimes.com, WordPress Dashboard, theblogprof.blogspot.com, facebook.com, and search.aol.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for full body scanners, body scanners, merrick garland, elena kagan, and obama care.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Fight the Invasion of the Body Scanners November 2010
5 comments

2

What Happened to Good Old-Fashioned Bowl Games? January 2010
5 comments

3

Most Dangerous: Michigan in Top 10; 2 Cities in Top 5 November 2009
4 comments

4

Detroit Homicide Rate Down 25% April 2010
2 comments

5

Miss Your Flight and Airlines Make You Pay! April 2009

Sun, 02 Jan 2011

Synder Has One Tough Row to Hoe

Filed under: Budget, Business, Economy, Government, Governor, Michigan, Politics, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 8:19 pm

Rick Snyder being sworn in as governor

Michigan’s 48th Governor, Rick Snyder, is no H. Ross Perot. But he had a certain similar appeal during the campaign and enough Michiganders are fed up with business as usual that he won the election. I’m pleased he edged past charlatans like Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra, and Mike Bouchard. But Snyder will need more than optimism from his inaugural address if he is to succeed.

We need to move from negative to positive. We need to stop looking in the rearview mirror and look toward the future. We need to stop being divisive and become inclusive.

Snyder’s campaign catch phrase was he’s “one tough nerd.” Well, he’s got one tough row to hoe if he’s going to implement positive change in Michigan; there is a lot that needs fixing.

Synder and his appointments

For a guy who wants to reinvent Michigan, I’m a little concerned he’s not making such a good start. Snyder’s first cabinet appointment was Andy Dillon as State Treasurer. This is a positive move how? Former Speaker of Michigan’s House Mr. Dillon missed more votes than any other state legislator! He presided over the Democratic House that failed to complete budget work and forced state government shutdowns in all but the last year of his tenure as speaker. To avoid a fourth shutdown, Dillon caved to Senate Republican budget proposals. There’s a man with moral fortitude and obvious budget experience for you—not! Snyder’s also surrounded himself with a bunch of former Gov. Engler hacks.

Beyond cabinet choices, Michigan has serious systemic issues that can’t just be wished or hoped away. To start, there is state government’s structural deficit, which actually precedes Gov. Granholm’s two terms in office. It remains to be seen if Michigan can live within the 2011 budget, some of it’s “revenue” is based on one-time fixes. As a result, Michigan’s 2012 budget shortfall is project to be at least $1 billion. In fact, Michigan’s Senate Fiscal Agency says the deficit could reach $1.85 billion for fiscal year 2012. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s biggest failure was her lack of leadership, especially in her second term. So, she passes the structural budget deficit she inherited to Gov. Snyder, who I’m sure is blown away.

Michigan Works job fair

At the fundamental root of Michigan’s current crisis are jobs. Simple as that. For 50 months Michigan had the worst unemployment in the US, surrendering that dubious position to Nevada in June. Michigan’s unemployment rate is still 49th, tied with California at 12.4%, as if that’s anything worth bragging about. Part of the problem is a relatively business-unfriendly environment in the state. Michigan has the 3rd highest business tax rate and the 6th highest unemployment tax rate in the country. So, except for targeted tax incentive industries, like filming and movies, why would a business locate in Michigan?

While there are many others, I’m going to end with Michigan’s dysfunctional political process. New State Treasurer Andy Dillion admitted being part of the dysfunctional system. Granted, Snyder has Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, but that’s no guarantee. Like chief executives at all levels of government, unless Snyder can get the legislature behind his plans, he will accomplish nothing. His forays into bipartisanshp and forays into inclusivity could turn very quickly on him when he gets down to making hard decisions. Decisions, I might add, left over from his cronies’ former boss, big ole John Engler.

Sat, 01 Jan 2011

Word Czars Take Aim at Social Media

Filed under: Humor, Language, Life, Media, People, Society — cynicalsynapse @ 8:59 am

viral

Michigan’s Lake Superior State University releases a list of banished words each year. The list started during a New Year’s Eve party in 1975. Since then it has been an annual effort to banish words and phrases from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse, and general uselessness.

This year, the list seems focused on how we communicate and use social networks.

In a busy U.S. election year, “the American People” told LSSU they were tired of not only “refudiate,” but also “mama grizzlies” who wanted their opponents to “man up.”

mama grizzly

The List of banished Words is developed from reader submissions. Here are the 2011 banished words and phrases.

  • Viral—something that has spread like wildfire on the Internet
  • Epic—”Standards for using ‘epic’ are so low, even ‘awesome’ is embarrassed.” Mike of Kettering, OH
  • Fail—pretty much any mistake someone could make, whether significant or not
  • Wow factor—a phrase used to highlight something that seems significantly appealing
  • A-ha moment—a point at which something becomes clear
  • Back story—and what is wrong with “history” instead of “back story”?
  • BFF—instead of BFF (Best Friends Forever), there’s BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense
  • Man Up—another case of “verbing” a noun; a chest-thumping cultural regression fit for frat boys stacking beer glasses
  • Refudiate—a Palinism that doesn’t even warrant mainstream attention
  • Mama grizzlies—another Palinism
  • The American People—a political reference intended to include all citizens as if we all held the same opinion
  • I’m just saying—a phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark
  • Facebook/Google as verbs—Excuse me? I’ve long held if you can’t find it on Google and can’t learn about it on Wikipedia, it’s not worth knowing about. And if I can’t Facebook with my friends, there’s no point in getting up in the morning.
  • Live life to the fullest—First, things are full or they’re not; there is no fullest. Second, ‘live life’ is redundant

Does this cause anyone else to wonder how we’re going to communicate with each other this year?

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